Just about

cupid 1What did the good Pharrel Williams say ?”Clap along if you know what happiness is to you“, well I guess he has done a lot clapping this year considering the immense success of his worldwide hit ” Happy“, however, do you know what happiness is to you, or better when? Metaphorically speaking when is the most intense moment of bliss: when you cross the finish line or the moment just before, when you are overwhelmed by that powerful combination of excitement and pain, in short, when you are “just about”?

cupid 3Just about” would have been Keats‘s prompt answer. In his “Ode on a Grecian Urn”, the poet is charmed by ” the leaf fringed legend ” that “haunts” the shape of an urn and focuses on the images which are depicted on its frieze . He is attracted by one scene in particular: there is a “bold lover” who is “winning near his goal “, that is, a beautiful young girl. He is just about to reach her, but unfortunately he is destined to live that frustrating condition forever, as art has stopped that moment and made it eternal.

That moment does not mean grief for the poet, but quite the contrary, for him it is the highest moment of happiness man can experience . The young boy’s love will be “for ever warm” as it is “still to be enjoyed“, and he will be ” for ever panting” for a girl whose youth and beauty will never fade away. Unfortunately time cannot be stopped, as once you eventually achieve your goal, your feelings are so overwhelming to devour that moment of bliss to leave you with “a heart high sorrowful and cloy’d, a burning forehead, and a parching tongue” looking at the ashes of what now is past.

cupid 2Canova ‘s “just about” can be admired in his magnificent statue of ” Cupid and Psyche“. “Cupid and Psyche” is a tale written by Apuleius a Latin-language prose writer. It narrates about the adventures of a young girl Psyche, who is uncommonly beautiful. Cupid, the son of Venus, desperately falls in love with Psyche and carries her to an enchanted, magnificent palace where they can secretly consume their passion, but he prohibits her to know his identity. The happiness of the young couple is threatened both by the envy of Psyche’s sisters, and by the hostility of Venus, who wouldn’t want her son to marry a mortal, whose beauty could be compared to her own, a goddess. Psyche follows the perfidious suggestions of her sisters thus disobeying Cupid, who consequently abandons her. She desperately seeks her lover, but she falls into the hands of her mother-in-law, Venus, who forces her to undergo insurmountable trials, which eventually she passes thanks to a series of extraordinary helps. A happy end follows: Jove himself will celebrate the wedding between Cupid and Psyche and will turn her into a goddess, making her immortal.

Canova represented in his statue the instant of the story, when he imagined intensity was at its pitch, that is when Cupid is “just about” to kiss Psyche. There is a slight, refined eroticism, while Cupid tenderly contemplates the face of the girl he loves, while Psyche reciprocates him with equal warmth and sweetness. You can feel that tension, before it bursts into passion. Psyche’s arms form a circle around the faces of the two lovers, which seems to frame the focal point of the statue. It’s inside that circle that the emotional tension swells and Cupid’s endless craving is close to be satisfied.He is just about.

However, experiencing that tension forever is impossible for both mortals or deities, only art can fix that moment. What comes next, then? Well, Cupid and Psyche had soon a beautiful daughter whose name was Voluptas, that is Pleasure. 😉







91 thoughts on “Just about

  1. Every time we are “just about” to make something special and important we feel adrenaline running into our veins and in that moment we are infinite and the happiest person in the world…it is not a case that the attend of pleasure is it self the pleasure, as many said.
    I agree with your opinion that art is one of the perfect way to impress this “just about” feeling forever but I think that are many other ways to do it, like music for example, how many times we hear a song and then we start overthinking, with the help of our imagination, of something than us? Or the most simple way to catch this feeling, I think, is dreaming.
    Every time we make a dream, a happy and lovely dream, we would this lasts forever because of its kind of perfection, and because we could feel this pleasure that we will not fell in our real life, but this is a just about moment and in fact many times we woke up, ore woken up by someone, and all this feelings fly away and we can’t remember it so I think that we made an eternal run to reach this magical feeling in every possible way.

  2. According to Winckelmann, a neoclassical artist (like Canova) must represent the moment which follows an action or the one that precedes it, that is the “just about” moment. It is a combination of excitement and pain that could sometimes be the highest moment of happiness a man can experience but, I think, it could also be a moment of great tension and anxiety. For example in the David’s painting “Giuramento degli Orazi”, the artist chooses to show the supreme moment of the solemn oath, when the tree brothers are going to pronounce the words: “Rome or Death”.
    In my opinion it was not a very happy moment for them all and for their parents too. Certainly they could be all enthusiastic and full of adrenaline in their veins but, I would dare say, not very happy…actually they were going to fight a mortal duel against the Curiazi brothers! I know in ancient Rome they used to solve problems in these ways and they used to fight with swords since they were just children, however the Orazi brothers were going to die! And normally, nobody is at his highest moment of happiness when he is just about…to die.

  3. I may sound out of contest when I say that I, personally, prefer the “right after” than the “just about”.
    I perfectly know the anxiety or the excitment of something that is about to happen but, for me, the moment right after is just better. The instant feeling of satisfaction, that you expirience when you have just finished an exam or when you have spent a beatiful evening with your friends, is undiscrivable.
    Maybe is due to my incredible laziness, but when I finish something I feel an incredible plesure. The simple act of remembering itself brings me so much joy, that I would rather be always “right after” than “just about”!

  4. I think that the perception of the moment “just about” is innate in man, and only thanks to artists like keats we can realize its apparent existence. Every man lives in the constant research to satisfy their own desires, which besiege without stopping, creating a sense of emptiness and frustration in everyone who can not be satiated with pleasure. The pleasure I’m talking about is then tasted briefly, during the moment that precedes the act desired, which is why I think it’s important to be able to fully grasp it, because grasp the “just about” is the only way to enjoy part of our desires.

  5. In my opinion I prefer to live  intensely every single moment of my life. You should live happily, thinking about life as a stream of “just about”. After a good moment another one will come  better than the previous. In your mind  a wonderful memory and hope for a new amazing experience will remain. I totally agree with  Keats’ teory of time but I don’t agree with his sadness after the sublime. He should have been eager to live another moment like that. Think less and enjoy your life!

  6. Many people think that happiness is in the excitement of a new experience, in a new love, in doing something incredible but i think that in those moments you are only near to happiness. The real happiness is in our way to see the things, in other words, happiness come when you feel satisfied and realized or when life is just as it should be.

    • “Just about” … It is the feeling that all men research, the triumph of great feelings. But I DO not agree with Keats and Canova, even if you do not consider my opinion romantic like theirs . Surely the waiting of pleasure is the way to improve the pleasure itself, but the sentence “the waiting of pleasure is the pleasure itself” is a big bullshit, for me. I am an impatient man and I like to satisfy my desire. However I have to say that arriving at the summit of a mountain is more beautiful if I have walked for hours. The moment before the goal you think, you feel many powerful emotions and imagine the purpose of your actions but it is not as beautiful as the goal itself.To answer to Keats… I like more kissing my girlfriend THAN watching her.

  7. I do not agree with Keats’s and Canova’s points of views .Well,the “Just about” is the outbreak of passion and great experiences,but it is not absolutely the same thing as the goal itself.Every person on the earth lives constantly trying to satisfy their own desires surrounded by strong sensations,and in my opinion nothing is better than fullfil them.Finally,as Pharrel Williams says in his hit,I can surely state that happiness is when you reach your targets.

  8. This is true: the moment that precedes what we want to achieve,the “just about”,rouses a great desire and a lot of intense emotions in us. In my opinion, when this moment is passed, everything subsides. But it is not right to be content,especially in love matters. We have to inflame again that desire,and,for example, it is possible leaving a touch of curiosity and mistery in the eyes of who looks at us.

  9. I do not agree with Keats and Canova, even if the “just about” is the time in which you feel many emotions is not the time with greater pleasure.
    Giving a simple example like thirst on a hot day, the moment before drinking you can only imagine how you will be happy drinking but do not have a real pleasure.
    So I am of the opinion that the real pleasure is when you reach the target, and not before.

  10. I really enjoyed this post.
    Man’s mind is complicated. We spend a lot of time desiring something but, when we obtain it, we feel a sense of void and we start desiring something else. We can say that man’s life is based on desiring.
    This probably happens because we always want to feel powerful emotions, that sense of excitement and adrenaline. We want to feel ourselves alive. I totally agree with Keats because I think that these strong emotions can be originated only by a “just about” moment. That moment during which you are just about to reach your goal. All the time spent in that desire, all the pains and the sacrifices suddenly make sense and you feel overwhelmed by a magic sensation.
    Personally I love this moment. I really feel myself alive, surrounded by a powerful emotion and a magic happiness, which will be eventually lost after the achievement of my goal. I would like to feel constantly that emotion but I know it is impossible. In fact, even when I remember that moment of high happiness, I cannot feel that moment again, I can only smile with a strong feeling of nostalgia inside me, looking at what now is finished.

  11. To agree or disagree with Keats and Canova is defenitly very personal. Although I particularly like Tommaso’s example of thirst on a hot day I have to disagree with him, because in my opinion just before you are about to dink your ice cold drink you feel the most satisfied. On the other hand applying this concept in love matters is a different story. Personally I think the just after gives me a biggest satisfaction as I have reached my goal and feel a sensation of accomplishment.

  12. In my opinion Canova and Williams are both right.
    There are two different kind of happiness, one which is given by material things,
    and one given by feelings. The first one is intenser right after the achievement of your goal, we you can finally say ” I made it”. The second one, instead, find its happiness in all the time that procedes the act.
    Even tho in my case, this feeling comes after the accomplishment of my objective, because most of the time failure and disappointment arrive when you start thinking you did it.

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